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Patrick Reusse: So you're taking over the Timberwolves, Tim Connelly? Good luck with that.

Patrick Reusse, Star Tribune on

Published in Basketball

The Timberwolves were 15 months from their first training camp as an NBA expansion team when Billy McKinney was their first basketball hire in July 1988 as director of player personnel.

Then, on Aug. 28, Bill Musselman was hired as head coach. He would share personnel decisions with McKinney, and CEO Bob Stein would represent ownership in such discussions.

"As the honest answer, we made the mistake made by a lot of new owners in sports, and other new businesses," Stein said. "And that is to be hesitant to give one person complete control of your product — and your money — when you're not really certain of the path to success.

"We hadn't been in basketball, and the idea was, well, let's sort of do this by consensus at the start.''

I loved Musselman as a topic and chronicled him in many locales. Yet on Tuesday, I had to ask Stein: "Did you really feel consensus was possible with 'Muss' at the table?"

Stein laughed and said: "A person could always hope, couldn't he?"

 

There has never been a newcomer to a sports business more successful in hiring marketers and communicators than Stein. "I think over half of our first hires wound up running franchises in the NBA or other pro leagues,'' he said.

Great consensus in the boardroom, not in the basketball room.

McKinney was unhappy with his lack of authority and was gone one month into the second season. Asked about the Billy and Bill dynamic, Stein said at the time:

"You'd rather have everybody going to the movies together, eating popcorn and holding hands, but that's not reality.''

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